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How to Find Towing Capacity by VIN

How To Find Towing Capacity by VIN

Did you know that you can find a vehicle’s towing capacity by VIN? Rather than online searches and mixed reviews about how much weight your vehicle can tow, take this shortcut.

The last thing you want to do is pull a travel trailer or fifth wheel that your vehicle can’t handle. This is a safety hazard and a potentially large repair bill waiting to happen.

Keep reading to learn how a VIN can give you correct information.

What Is a VIN? 

A VIN is a vehicle identification number. It’s 17 characters that serve as a vehicle’s unique identifier. The last six numbers are the vehicle’s serial number. 

You can typically find the VIN on the dashboard of the driver’s side. Another place is where the door latches when closed on the driver’s side door. It will also appear on the vehicle’s title, registration, or insurance card. 

2021 GMC Sierra

What Can You Learn from a Vehicle Identification Number?

You can learn multiple things about a vehicle from its VIN. This includes the vehicle type, country of origin, chassis, transmission, axle ratios, model year, trim level, airbag type, and gross combined weight rating. 

It’s a myth that you can get personal information from a VIN. Even though it’s linked to the vehicle’s title, any personal information remains private.

Can You Look Up Towing Capacity by VIN? 

Finding towing capacity by VIN is the most accurate way to know how much your vehicle can pull. Truck models, for example, can vary in tow capacity. There can even be debates between what the truck manual says and what the dealer tells you. You don’t want to risk damage to your vehicle or worse if it’s pulling something too heavy. Looking up the towing capacity by VIN reassures you.

While the VIN doesn’t specifically give the weight a vehicle can tow, you can find the GCWR (gross combined weight rating). Once you have the GCWR, you can calculate the towing capacity.

Pro Tip: Here are the best crossover SUVs for towing.

How to Calculate Towing Capacity by VIN

To calculate towing capacity by VIN, take the following steps:

  1. Determine the curb weight of the vehicle. You should find this number on the VIN sticker.
  2. You can estimate the passenger weight but base it on the maximum number of passengers who could ride in the vehicle.
  3. Subtract the total from #2 from the vehicle’s GCWR. Again, you find this by looking up the VIN. Or find it on the VIN sticker on the vehicle’s door.

The total you get after completing #3 is the vehicle’s max towing capacity. 

Understanding Your VIN Sticker

Often the sticker on a vehicle that contains the VIN also has other important information. Here are definitions of the terms that may appear on the sticker.


GVWR stands for gross vehicle weight rating. In other words, the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely handle. The GVWR includes curb weight as well as the weight of passengers, fuel, and cargo.


GAWR stands for gross axle weight rating. This is the maximum weight that you can put on an individual axle. The front and rear axles of a vehicle typically have different GAWR. The manufacturer determines this weight.


GCWR stands for gross combined weight rating. When you add the GVWR of both your vehicle and the trailer you’re towing, you get the GCWR. The GCWR is the maximum weight the vehicle and trailer can safely hit combined.

Towing Capacity

Towing capacity is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can pull while going down the road. Never exceed this weight, or you could damage your vehicle. For example, your transmission could fail if the towing capacity is over the maximum.

Payload Capacity

Payload capacity is the maximum amount of weight your vehicle can safely handle in addition to its curb weight. In other words, the payload is the weight of the cargo you add to your vehicle.

Knowing your vehicle’s towing capacity before you purchase or tow an RV is vital. Being over capacity can end up costing you thousands of dollars due to damage. Plus, it’s important for the safety of you, your passengers, and others on the roads. 

Now you know how to find your towing capacity by VIN easily. Make sure you’re not pulling more than your vehicle can handle. Have you ever used your VIN to calculate this number?

Keep in mind: Here’s what you need to know to figure out how much towing power you need.

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